One Taste of a Culture Without Roots

Two people meditate for exactly 15 minutes while one mindfully strokes the others’ clitoris. It’s called “oming”.

I was a little shocked when I heard that. At first it sounded like a sex cult, but I didn’t know enough to comment. Several of my friends have joined this movement called OneTaste, and touted the real benefits of the practice. I love and respect these people so I decided to research what this is all about. Here is what I found.

My conclusion is that this commune which sells vaginally-focused “Orgasmic Meditation” is not a cult. OneTaste is a business: it is out there in the public sphere, it has conferences, it has famous authors like Naomi Wolf typing its accolades, it has PR and press relations, it has branch offices in major cities, and it is expanding (boy is it expanding). It may sound strange to outsiders but a sexually-liberated, boundary-pushing, eclectic spiritual practice is exactly the kind of hippy-dippy stuff you would expect in San Francisco. Mixed in are the innovative new business models that you would expect in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and it’s the perfect storm. It fills a market need, specifically in the spirituality market where there is a gap left open by the west’s abandonment of its own spiritual identity. I should point out though, Scientology is also a business, and has validated this space before.

So now I’m in the know about what my friends are into, and I accept it. Would I be a potential customer? Well, the platform on which their ‘products and services’ business is built on is spirituality. So to analyse the product (presumably before buying it myself, as a consumer) I can apply theology, and thus all the logical instruments of philosophy. Fortunately I was educated on this kind of stuff in Catholic school, so I can make a better buying decision. Here is where it gets interesting.

First off, what is the spiritual pedigree of the product? Where does it come from? The practice was started by Nicole Daedone, who studied a broad mix of Buddhism, Kabbalah, and yoga as well as with guru Ray Vetterlein who studied with the Morehouse hippy commune. So is this Buddhist? No, absolutely not because it violates Buddha’s first discourse which preaches against “Kama” (craving for physical pleasure) because it is both one of the 3 leading causes of suffering and one of the 5 hinderances to attaining enlightenment. The “slow sex” movement is obviously not numerological so it does not come from the Kabbalah. It would be Tantric Yoga except that the Dalai Lama teaches that tantra is meant for visualization not for physical practice. Therefore most of OneTaste’s spiritual credentials date back only to the 1960’s, with some cherry-picked eastern “mindful meditation” practices. Not a very highly esteemed spiritual tradition. I don’t think I’m a customer for this, because I prefer my spirituality to undergo 2,000 years of rigorous vetting by ascetics well trained in logic, mathematics and philosophy (even if it results in occasional B.S. like transubstantiation).

If the practice of OMing were to go through such a vetting process then how well would it fare? Well to start, it fits cleanly into the label of “hedonistic”, and “materialistic” because OMing is often sold to techies in the valley as a “body hack” aimed at making your mind and body feel better. Such “body hacks” would not even pass muster with the ancient Greeks like Socrates (on whom Christian thought is based on almost more so than Jesus), nor even with Buddha. If they hail from the Lafeyette Morehouse then they would believe “people and things are right the way they are, but have potential to change”. Certainly my friends who participate in this practice have stated similar beliefs. This fits squarely into the bucket of “relativism”, which in all of western spirituality (from Islam, to Mormonism) is considered dangerous and poisonous to the soul. I understand that there are relativistic religions out there in eastern traditions, but I know nothing about them. Truth, as far as I can tell, must be objective and absolute.

Why then does OneTaste’s Orgasmic Meditation sell so well? Certainly it has some very smart and talented people working there, and it is doing everything right from a logistical point of view. They also fill a market gap. A void left in a society that abandoned its spiritual roots and now floats around like a tumble weed. OMing does seem to provide some level of comfort to people with personal troubles. They can mindfully meditate over clitoral stimulation in the place where years ago they would clear their minds of worldly troubles and put their faith in the plan of their creator. Pope Benedict XVI warned of what happens in a society when it loses its moral roots, he stated that an adult faith does not follow the waves of fashion and the latest novelties. I think he hit the nail on the head; here this is exactly what is happening.

Finally, as a mental exercise, ask yourself this: How would you spiritually interpret it if an earthquake completely levelled a city whose moral compass has veered so far off course to where communal masturbation was seen as a spiritual achievement? Most religious Americans might say that God had smitten the city for losing sight of His commandments amidst its hedonism and decadence. Several new, Abrahamic, post-Mormon, religions could easily be founded off of the cautionary tales of the excesses of … let’s say San Francisco. Such biblical-style parables have happened before, and will again, and I now have a different appreciation for them in light of what I learned. Thank you for letting me share it with you.